Berea College Student Wins Prestigious Thomas J. Watson Fellowship 2017-2018

Zakiyya Ashe

BEREA, Kentucky—The Center for International Education is proud to announce that Berea College Nominee Zakiyya Ashe won the national competition for the 2017-2018 Thomas J. Watson Fellowship prize of $30,000.

 

Zakiyya will engage in purposeful exploration—traveling the world for 365 days—after she graduates in May.

 

Her project, “Hidden Minorities: Connection through Animation and Graphic Novels,” will take her through Australia, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, and France.

 

During this year, Zakiyya will travel to five countries essential in adding racial, gender, and LGBTQIA+ diversity to the animation pipeline. She asks, “What are the mindsets of minorities pioneering this new animation art form?” The countries she wishes to visit encourage audiences to establish networks using animation and graphic novels as a connection medium. To understand how the marginalized identify with characters, stories, and others like them, Zakiyya will collaborate with artists to explore how they have strengthened their voices through the animation industry.

 

Zakiyya has graciously shared her sentiments at this moment by stating, “This is an exciting opportunity! I’m happy and grateful to be able to receive this chance to find people around the world that feel just as much joy about minorities in animation as I do.”

 

Berea College is the only school in the Commonwealth of Kentucky from which The Watson Fellowship accepts candidates. This year, from Watson’s 40 participating institutions, 149 finalists were nominated to compete on the national level from which 40 fellows were selected. The Watson pool continues to be extremely competitive. Berea College is grateful to be able to put forward candidates for this esteemed prize.

 

Continuing its tradition of expanding the vision and developing the potential of remarkable students, today the Watson Foundation announced its 49th class of Thomas J. Watson Fellows. The Watson provides a year of unparalleled international exploration for select graduating college seniors in any field.

 

This year’s class comes from 6 countries and 21 states. They’ll travel to 67 countries exploring topics ranging from pediatric cancer treatment to citizen journalism; from animation to autonomous vehicles; from immigration to island communities, from megacities to wildfire management. “As we approach a half century of making big bets on talented students, we are thrilled to announce this year’s class,” said Chris Kasabach, Executive Director of the Watson Foundation. “We work with a terrific group of partner institutions and these fellows shows the enormous depth, width and creativity of our next generation of leaders.”

 

Watson awardees come from private liberal arts colleges and universities across the United States. From the program’s 40 partner institutions, 149 finalists were nominated to compete on the national level from which 40 Fellows were selected. Fellows will receive $30,000 for twelve-months of travel and college loan assistance as required.

 

About the Watson Foundation

 

In 1961, Jeannette K. Watson created the Thomas J. Watson Foundation in the name of her husband, Thomas J. Watson Sr, best known for building IBM. Through one-of-a-kind, life changing programs, the Foundation provides fellows with cultural, professional and personal opportunities that challenge them to expand their vision, test and develop their potential, and build the confidence and perspective to do so for others. In 2015, the Foundation organized as a public-facing foundation, unifying its programs under the Watson Foundation.

 

About the Thomas J. Watson Fellowship

 

The Thomas J. Watson Fellowship, offers graduating college seniors of “unusual promise” the opportunity to engage in one year of independent exploration and travel outside the United States. A Watson Year provides fellows with an opportunity to enhance the capacity for resourcefulness, imagination, openness, and leadership, and to foster humane and effective participation in the world community—in short, to develop future leaders who are self-reflective, well-informed, mindful citizens of the world. Over 2,800 Watsons have been named since the fellowship’s start in 1968. Watson Fellows have gone on to become international influencers in their fields including CEOs of major corporations, college presidents, Emmy, Grammy and Oscar Award winners, Pulitzer Prize awardees, artists, diplomats, doctors, faculty, journalists, lawyers, politicians, researchers and inspiring leaders around the world.

Here are images of Zakiyya’s artwork:

             Ashe 5           Ashe 2

 

To learn more about applying as a Berea student or recommending a student, visit: https://www.berea.edu/cie/thomas-j-watson-fellowship/

 

To read Zakiyya’s project summary and the other 39 amazing projects, see: http://watson.foundation/fellowships/tj/fellows

 

#BereaAbroad #WatsonWednesday #BereaCollege

 

6 Berea College Students Awarded Prestigious Gilman Scholarship

Andrea Dowlen ’18, Kelley Farley ’17, Amber Follin ’17, Nicholas Fouch ’18, Amber Mosley ’18, and Emily Smith ’18 are students at Berea College and a few of over 850 American undergraduate students from 359 colleges and universities across the U.S. selected to receive the prestigious Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs to study or intern abroad during the spring 2017 term. The students will study abroad for an entire term in countries such as Germany, Ireland, Peru, Nepal, Cyprus, and Australia.

Gilman scholars receive up to $5,000 to apply towards their study abroad or internship program costs.  The program offers grants for U.S. citizen undergraduate students of limited financial means to pursue academic studies or credit-bearing, career-oriented internships abroad. Such international exchange is intended to better prepare U.S. students to thrive in the global economy and interdependent world. Students receiving a Federal Pell Grant from two- and four-year institutions who will be studying abroad or participating in a career-oriented international internship for academic credit are eligible to apply.  Scholarship recipients have the opportunity to gain a better understanding of other cultures, countries, languages, and economies — making them better prepared to assume leadership roles within government and the private sector.

Congressman Gilman, who retired in 2002 after serving in the House of Representatives for 30 years and chairing the House Foreign Relations Committee, commented, “Study abroad is a special experience for every student who participates.  Living and learning in a vastly different environment of another nation not only exposes our students to alternate views, but also adds an enriching social and cultural experience.  It also provides our students with the opportunity to return home with a deeper understanding of their place in the world, encouraging them to be a contributor, rather than a spectator in the international community.”

The program is administered by the Institute of International Education (IIE).  The full list of students who have been selected to receive Gilman Scholarships, including students’ home state, university and host country, is available on their website: www.iie.org/gilmanAccording to Allan Goodman, President and CEO of IIE, “International education is one of the best tools for developing mutual understanding and building connections between people from different countries.  It is critical to the success of American diplomacy and business, and the lasting ties that Americans make during their international studies are important to our country in times of conflict as well as times of peace.”

If you are curious about the Gilman and its wonderful opportunities, then follow this link and find out more information. Not only will this award help in covering costs, but can also help you connect with prestigious Alums and open many gateways if you plan on pursuing an international career.

TWO BEREA COLLEGE STUDENTS NAMED FULBRIGHT SEMI-FINALISTS

Cayla Jones pic
Logan Smith pic

Berea, KY- Cayla Jones ’17 and Logan Lee Smith ‘17 are both semi-finalists for the post-graduate Fulbright Scholarship. These two graduating seniors will now compete at the international level. The Fulbright Program is the international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. State Department. It is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries through cultural engagement.

Cayla Jones applied to be an English teaching assistant in Germany. She intends on teaching German students messages of tolerance, multiplicity of thought, and the hidden secrets of communication alongside American culture through American English studies. Due to the fact that her family’s history has been silenced, she plans on educating students on effective ways to retell their families’ history.

Logan Lee Smith intends on researching human trafficking in Iceland. Due to her passion and the fact that Iceland’s 3-year Anti-Human-Trafficking campaign has been extremely successful, she would like to study the strategies that Iceland has used to combat human trafficking and apply them to the United States.

The semi-finalists will find out later in the spring if they are finalists.

Since its establishment in 1946 under legislation introduced by the late Senator J. William Fulbright, of Arkansas, the Fulbright Program has provided opportunities for more than 300,000 people from the United States and from countries around the world to observe each others’ political, economic, educational and cultural institutions, to exchange ideas, and to embark on joint ventures of importance to the general welfare of the world’s inhabitants. The program operates in more than 155 countries worldwide.

You do not need to be enrolled currently at Berea College to apply; both graduating seniors and students who have already graduated can apply at the following link: https://www.berea.edu/cie/fulbright-us-student-program/. The Berea deadline for the application is September 30th every year. #BereaAbroad #Fulbright

An Interview with Thomas J. Watson Fellowship Winner Moondil Jahan

moondiljahan

Photo credit to Arthuzi Photography

An Introduction

We humans tend to judge by appearances before getting to know someone. I had heard about Moondil Jahan all summer while working for the Center for International Education. She was our latest Watson Fellowship winner, and she was going to be leaving the United States soon. By the time of our interview I had formed a hazy image in my head of what she must be like from our press releases on the Watson and the performances I’d had the pleasure of watching… both her dancing troupe and the Afro-Latin drumming ensemble. She seemed so big then – drawing the audience’s attention her direction with her powerful stage presence – the very picture of confidence. You can imagine my surprise when she walked in for our interview. Clashing with my first perception: there stood a slight girl.

She greeted me with one of the brightest smiles I have ever seen in my life.

It was at that moment that I really started to understand that Watson Fellowship winners surprise you in unexpected ways. How many students had I met at Berea College that did the exact same thing?

 

Pre-departure – What does it feel like? Connections?

Upon being asked whether or not she was scared or worried before her departure, Moondil gave a resolute no. If anything, she said she was excited. The confidence I had seen in many of her performances appeared again. Moon explained that she was sincerely thankful for her African-Latin Percussion Ensemble instructor – Tripp Bratton. He was responsible for helping her create contacts in the various countries she wanted to visit for her Watson. With his guidance, she was able to establish relationships with Sayon Camara in Guinea, Gideon Alorwoyie in Ghana, a past Berea graduate by the name of Aminata Cairo in Amsterdam, and other drummers around the world. These people were able to help her with topics on drumming, dancing, or both. She had spent a year or more talking with these people, and was ready to meet them in person.

Moon stressed the importance of building connections. These connections helped her Watson project come together. An allegory she used when describing the process was like using strings. A person writing a Watson should be able to connect everything together, and as she talked I imagined the Watson proposal as a big tapestry. Consider each element of the Watson as a string – the countries, the topics, the places, the people, and the things you chose to do and study. She found how those strings related to one another, and soon her proposal had coalesced into a beautiful hand-crafted piece of art.

It was through her process of building up contacts and connections that she stumbled upon an astounding opportunity. Moondil became familiar with the drumming of Guinean drummer Famoudou Konaté while educating herself about African rhythmaculture. She had read many of his interviews and really looked up to him. She mentioned his honorary professorship (in Didactic of African Musical Practice) from the University of Berlin Arts with a grin. She talked about how he toured Europe for decades.

One day Moondil was talking to her contact in Guinea, Sayon Camara. As they were talking, he mentioned that he had learned drumming from Famoudou Konaté. Even more astoundingly, he told Moondil that she could meet him! When telling us this, she was practically vibrating in her seat from excitement. Her process of building contacts and meeting people had opened a world of opportunities to her.

 

Writing: Poetry vs. Prose, Proposals, and More Connections

Watson Fellowship hopefuls, in the midst of panicking and editing their umpteenth draft, typically want advice on the process of writing a Watson proposal. Moondil had some very good tips and suggestions for them. When writing her Watson proposal she worked very closely with a professor in the Spanish Department – Dr. Fred de Rosset. She suggested to find someone who “knows you well, who is a good person, and who knows how to listen.”

Admittedly, Moon went through several hundred drafts while writing her proposal. She explained how English was not her first language (she is from Bangladesh), and how Dr. de Rosset had her “tell stories” about why she made specific word choices in her essay. He then was able to help her refine the wording of her proposal. They met many times over the span of several months. She said she benefited immensely from the support of her professor.

Not only that, Moondil took advantage of other opportunities across campus. She was striving to make her Watson coherent – once again she used “strings” to describe her process – and wanted to leave no room for messiness in her writing. She aptly said, “You cannot take a word limit negatively. There is a reason why poems are more beautiful than prose.”

Her point was that life is like a novel, and your job is to shorten your story into something like poetry, so that it might perfectly fit your Watson proposal requirements. Moondil emphasized that the Watson Fellowship is an investment in a person, and everyone has something unique to bring to the table, “If you are passionate about something, there is no way you can be ordinary.”

Moondil decided to take advantage of other opportunities on campus too. She went to the Center for Transformative Learning for a mock interview with Amanda Tudor. Those applying for the Watson Fellowship must go through two sets of interviews: one to pick four students to be nominated by from Berea College for the fellowship, and another from a representative from the Thomas J. Watson committee. This was another way to refine the skills she needed to win. Outside of the CTL, she also thoroughly enjoyed a mock interview with Dr. Carol de Rosset.

The advice she left Watson hopefuls is this: if you have a passion, if you truly love it, do not compromise. She explained how that beginning of writing process that she was unable to choose between dancing and drumming for proposal before realizing – why not both? You need to know clearly what you want to do. The core of this truth seemed to be this – your own passion, and the uniqueness of your experience, is what makes your Watson unique and something worth investing in.

 

The Road Ahead

The journey of a Watson Fellowship winner is both full of happiness and hardships. I asked Moondil what she thought would be the most difficult part of her journey, and she explained that it will be the “release for emotions that cannot be expressed with words” that come from dancing and drumming. Her exploration of rhythmaculture will bring her to different countries and cultures, and she will experience grief and rejoicing with people she has never met before. This will be deeply personal, and she will be fully immersed in emotions she feels are the strongest in human experience. It will be simultaneously difficult and fulfilling.

Moondil started out on the first leg of her journey June 24th, 2016—just a few days after our last- minute interview. She will not step foot on American soil for an entire year. This is the expectation of all Thomas J. Watson Fellowship winners. Her confidence, sense of self, and fearlessness will buoy her throughout all of her times of hardship and happiness. We wish her the best of luck out there!

Berea College Student Wins Prestigious Thomas J. Watson Fellowship 2016-2017

Moondil Jahan drums on campus. Photo by Phyo Phyo Kyaw Zin

Moondil Jahan drums on campus. Photo by Phyo Phyo Kyaw Zin

BEREA, Kentucky—The Center for International Education is proud to announce that Berea College Nominee Moondil Jahan won the national competition for the 2016-2017 Thomas J. Watson Fellowship prize of $30,000.

Moondil will engage in purposeful exploration—traveling the world for 365 days—after she graduates in May.

Her project, “Journey through Rhythmaculture: Grieving and Rejoicing through Indigenous Drumming and Dancing,” will take her through Germany, Morocco, Spain, Peru, Ghana, Suriname and The Netherlands.

This journey, for Moondil, is not just one of exploring countries and cultures.  She explains, “My Watson project entails a journey both inwards and outwards, concurrently towards myself and others. I am humbled and thrilled to receive such an honor.”

Moondil has experienced sorrow and joy and felt them “through the indigenous music and dance of [her] motherland, Bangladesh.” “I have chosen to explore these art forms across linguistic, cultural, and geographic borders,” she notes, “A region is considered to have a rhythmaculture, when its culture fully embraces its traditional music and dance in every aspect of life. Delving into the rich and ancient tradition of drumming and dancing I will gain firsthand exposure to the world’s most remarkable performers while learning the cathartic powers of rhythmaculture at a global level.”

Berea College is the only school in the Commonwealth from which The Watson Fellowship accepts candidates.

This year, 152 finalists were nominated to compete on the national level from which 40 fellows were selected. The Watson pool continues to be extremely competitive. Berea College is grateful to be able to put forward candidates for this esteemed prize.

This year’s class of Watson Fellows comes from 21 states and eight countries. They exhibit a broad range of academic specialty, socio-economic background, and life experience. The 48th Class of Watson Fellows, will traverse 67 countries exploring topics ranging from climate change to incarceration; from technology empowerment to forced migration; from car culture to ethnoentomology.

The Thomas J. Watson Fellowship, named after the founder of International Business Machines (IBM), offers graduating college seniors of “unusual promise” the opportunity to engage in one year of independent exploration and travel outside the United States. Its goals are to enhance the capacity for resourcefulness, imagination, openness, and leadership, and to foster humane and effective participation in the world community—in short, to develop future leaders who are self-reflective, well-informed, mindful citizens of the world. Each year, about 40 students receive $30,000 each.

To learn more about applying as a Berea student or recommending a student, visit: https://www.berea.edu/cie/thomas-j-watson-fellowship/

To read Moondil’s project summary and the other 39 amazing projects, see: http://watson.foundation/fellowships/tj/fellows

#BereaAbroad #WatsonWednesday #BereaCollege

Berea College Student Named Fulbright Semi-Finalist

Berea, KY- Berea College is proud to announce that Aja Croteau ’16 of Winchester, KY was just named a semi-finalist at the next level for an international post-graduate US Student Fulbright Scholarship. This graduating senior’s proposal will now be sent to Belgium to be considered there.

Aja CroteauAja hopes to be an English Teaching Assistant (ETA) in Belgium. Studying French throughout middle and high school revealed her passion for exploring new languages and cultures. As an additional project, Aja plans to engage with food issues that arise in Belgium. She has vast experience working with food security and teaching people how to grow their own healthier food. She will find out by late April if she has been selected by the Belgian National Selection Committee.

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program is an international educational exchange sponsored by the U.S. State Department. It is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries through cultural engagement.

Since its establishment in 1946 under legislation introduced by the late Senator J. William Fulbright, of Arkansas, the Fulbright Program has provided opportunities for approximately 325,400 people from the United States and from countries around the world to observe each others’ political, economic, educational and cultural institutions, to exchange ideas, and to embark on joint ventures of importance to the general welfare of the world’s inhabitants. The program operates in more than 155 countries worldwide.

Berea students who are about to graduate or young alumni can apply at the following link: https://www.berea.edu/cie/fulbright-us-student-program/.  The deadline for the application is September 30th every award year.

Education Abroad by the Numbers (Berea College 2014-15)

CIE Logo47 Berea students studied abroad for a semester or a full year—30% more than the previous year and an all-time record for Berea College! A total of 169 students experienced some kind of educational experience abroad in more than 35 countries.

 

40% of the class of 2015 engaged Education Abroad while at Berea College—up 6% from the year before.

 

11 Berea students received a combined $41,000 through the national Benjamin Gilman Scholarship program, which is designed to diversify the kinds of students who study and intern abroad and the countries and regions where. The Gilman supports undergraduates who might otherwise not participate for financial reasons. Berea was the top recipient in Kentucky.

 

11 Berea Faculty members taught a course abroad—either through our internal Berea International Summer Term (BIST) Program or through Consortia.

 

90+ people attended CIE’s weekly international program—an increase of about 10 more people per program. For a third year in a row, the Center for International Education managed a wonderful collaboration within our office: a weekly lunch program called Think Globally—it’s Friday (TGIF). The program featured students who are either international or have studied abroad. The food was both regionally appropriate and delicious. Every student who studies abroad shares some of their learnings with the campus community. This is our most popular format.

 

$600 in scholarship funds for study abroad was raised by a student-led “Wellness Around the World” 5K.

 

$30,000 went to this year’s Berea Thomas J. Watson Fellowship winner Tuvshinzaya Amarzaya who is currently traveling all over the world looking at martial arts. Berea is one of only 40 schools nationwide that can nominate candidates for this prestigious award.

 

Nearly $400,000 was the amount that Berea’s CIE endowed funds contributed toward students’ experiences abroad. Summer abroad students received $161,125 in support from endowed funds administered by the Center for International Education. The CIE awarded $237,791 for Berea Term Abroad for all semester and year-long study abroad programs.  Additional funds were awarded by the Foreign Language Department.

 

(Berea is unique because every student approved for study abroad receives a one-time scholarship to help defray the extra costs. We are extremely grateful for all this support—and especially thankful for the donors who have generously given funds specifically so that our students can foster a greater understanding of, and respect for, all peoples of the earth.)

Fullbright Friday: Three Berea College Students Named Fulbright Berea Nominees

Berea, KY- Joseph Nance ’16 (Knoxville, TN), Aja Croteau ’16 (Winchester, KY), Liana Madrid ’16 (Brownsville, TX), are all Berea Nominees for the post-graduate Fulbright Scholarship. These three graduating seniors will now compete at the national level. The Fulbright Program is the international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government. It is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries through cultural engagement.

Joseph Nance has an interest in the motivations behind the younger generation’s interest in displaying social status via different social media outlets.  Therefore, he applied to go to graduate school at City University in London, UK. Although Joseph would be in graduate school, he plans to continue his journey through London by connecting with people through social media.

Aja Croteau applied to be an English teaching assistant in Belgium.  Aja studied French throughout middle and high school, which exposed her passion for exploring new languages and cultures.  As an additional project, Aja plans to combat the food issues that are arise in Belgium.  She has vast experience working with food security and teaching people how to grow their own healthier food.

Due to her study abroad experience this past spring, Liana Madrid intends to return to South Korea to teach English to high schoolers. Liana became intrigued with how the different generations maintain their culture while also progressing socially and culturally.  In addition to teaching, Liana has proposed an afterschool photography project to help the high schoolers express themselves and their cultural identity.

The Berea Nominees will find out in December if they will move forward as semi- finalists. Since its establishment in 1946 under legislation introduced by the late Senator J. William Fulbright, of Arkansas, the Fulbright Program has provided opportunities for approximately 325,400 people from the United States and from countries around the world to observe each others’ political, economic, educational and cultural institutions, to exchange ideas, and to embark on joint ventures of importance to the general welfare of the world’s inhabitants. The program operates in more than 155 countries worldwide.

You do not need to be enrolled at Berea College to apply. Students who have already graduated can apply as well at the following link: https://www.berea.edu/cie/fulbright-us-student-program/. The deadline for the application is September 30th every award year. #BereaAbroad #Fulbright

Berea College Students poised to win $30,000 Fellowship

Traveling with a purpose, Watson FellowshipBEREA, Kentucky—The Center for International Education is proud to announce its four Berea College Nominees to the national slate for the 2016-2017 Watson Fellowship. Fewer than 160 graduating seniors from 40 institutions are nominated nationwide for this esteemed prize. Berea College is the only school in the Commonwealth from which The Watson Fellowship accepts candidates.

The Thomas J. Watson Fellowship, named after the founder of International Business Machines (IBM), offers graduating college seniors of “unusual promise” the opportunity to engage in one year of independent exploration and travel outside the United States. Its goals are to enhance the capacity for resourcefulness, imagination, openness, and leadership, and to foster humane and effective participation in the world community—in short, to develop future leaders who are self-reflective, well-informed, mindful citizens of the world. Each year, 40 winners of The Watson receive $30,000 each.

After intense deliberation over proposals from Berea’s impressive group of Watson Fellowship applicants, the four seniors nominated for the national running have been determined: Moondil Jahan, Liana Madrid, Ngoc Anh Cao, and Abigail Palmer.

Moondil Jahan is honored to explore the expression of grief and joy through indigenous drumming and dancing. She plans to travel to Spain, Germany, and Morocco. This journey, for Moondil, is not just one of exploring countries and cultures. She goes on to explain, “My Watson project entails a journey both inwards and outwards, concurrently towards myself and others. I am humbled and thrilled to receive such an honor to be a part of Watson Four.”

Abigail Palmer is excited about analyzing superheroes and anti-heroes in media around the world. She plans to travel to Spain, India, Italy, England, and Scotland. “I am absolutely honored to be offered such an opportunity and hope that I can represent myself, friends, family, and Berea well during this challenging, but rewarding process.”

Liana Madrid will be investigating the creation of cultural identities by ethnic minorities. Liana plans to travel to Japan, New Zealand, Sweden, South Africa, and Brazil. Liana is honored to have been chosen as well. She says, “I am more than grateful to be given the opportunity to move forward. It has been an on-going process for me to believe and see my potential, and it feels very surreal to have been nominated as one of four Berea students for a chance to be a Watson Fellow. Thank you!”

Ngoc Anh Cao, who will be looking into hearing the stories of Vietnamese Boat Refugees, will be traveling to Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Australia, Germany, and Canada. She feels that this project is giving her a voice. “This fellowship tells me that my personal story matters, and that

what I’m committed to doing will create something good in this world, not only for myself but also for others.”

#BereaAbroad #WatsonWednesday

My Study Abroad Experience by Mimi Zheng

Short Biography:

I am originally from New York City and my parents were immigrants from China in the early 90s. Prior to coming to Berea, I have lived in a bustling city, a rural small town in China, and the rolling hills of Virginia. As a child, my dream was to go to college one day, a privilege that my parents did not have. On top of being highly encouraged to pursue an undergrad degree, my mom has instilled the value of a strong work ethic in me. Post Berea, I hope to travel and attend grad school. In my free time, I enjoy traveling, learning different languages and cooking!

My Study Abroad Experience:

Mimi ZhengI studied abroad this past semester, spring 2015, in Alicante, Spain. My decision to study abroad was not an easy one. I did not think I would have enough money, I was not sure where to do, and when to go. However, I did know that time abroad would be exactly what I need to complete my college experience. After talking to fellow Berea College students that have gone abroad, I decided that I should see the world, even if it meant taking out a large loan. Fortunately, a year post my decision to study abroad, I am beyond content with my choice to study in Spain and I did so with the help of the GEO scholarship from Berea and the Gilman scholarship, leaving me only a small amount of loan.

When I was deciding on where to go, one of my friends told me to go where I want to live and not where I would be content to just travel. That helped me so much because I wanted to see so many places around the world but in reality, I wanted to live in a Spanish-speaking country in Europe where I could travel to other European countries so that really narrowed it down to Spain.

On January 9, 2015, I traveled across the Atlantic Ocean and arrived in Alicante, little did I know the impact that this medium-size city on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea would leave such an impression on me. I started out as the quiet girl who went to a college that no one had heard of in the middle of Kentucky, all my classes were in Spanish, and I was living in a new environment with a different culture. Everything seemed that much scarier to me but to my surprise, Alicante felt like home in just a short amount of time; I had a distinct route that I took to walk home, I knew all the baristas at my coffee shop, I greeted the same neighbors every morning as I run out to catch the tram- I had my own routine.

Mimi ParaglidingDuring my time abroad, I was able to take 5 courses in Spanish, lived with an amazing host family, travel to other countries, paraglide on the coast of the Mediterranean sea, zip line from Spain to Portugal, visit most of the major cities in Spain and even attend a Barcelona soccer game; I have had an amazing journey. One of them most incredible experience of my abroad trip that was made possible because of the Gilman scholarship was my Camino de Santiago or St. James’s Way. A group of students from my study abroad program and some of our professors embarked on this five-day pilgrimage in the region of Galicia, Spain. We started our pilgrimage in Sarria and ended in Santiago de Compostela, where St. James was buried. Through this 75 miles walk, I learned a lot about my companions or “pilgrims” as we were called and a lot about myself. We supported each other through every step, laughed at every funny joke and the never-ending singing of Disney songs, cried through the pain of blisters, sunburn, and other wounds and sometimes literally carrying each other but we made it and we made it together. The Camino made me realize so much more about who I am, what I shared with other and who I want to become.

It’s extremely challenging to summarize everything that I have experienced in the five months that I was abroad but I do know that I do not regret any minute of it. I was able to see parts of the world that I never dreamed of ever seeing, I learned so much about other cultures and people, I experienced things that I did not think I had the courage to do and I learned so much about myself. And to think that all that would not have been possible without Berea College and the Gilman scholarship.

If you are interesting in hearing more about my adventures abroad, you can click on the link below to access my blog. Thanks for reading!

Mimi